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Category Archives: E-Commerce

A Sustainable Path Forward Report from the Task Force on US Postal System

United States Postal Service: A Sustainable Path Forward Report from the Task Force on the United States Postal System. December 4, 2018 – “On April 12, 2018, you [President Trump] signed Executive Order 13829, which established the Task Force on the United States Postal System to evaluate the operations and finances of the United States Postal Service (USPS) and develop recommendations for administrative and legislative reforms for the U.S. postal system. The goal of these recommendations is to identify a path for the USPS to operate under a sustainable business model, providing necessary mail services to citizens and businesses, while competing fairly in commercial markets…”

The USPS is a $71 billion enterprise that collects, processes, transports, and delivers 146 billion pieces of mail and packages to nearly 159 million households and businesses annually.The mission of the USPS is broadly defined via the “universal service obligation”(USO), which is intended to ensure that all citizens and businesses in the United States receive a minimum level of postal services at a reasonable price. The USPS has been losing money for more than a decade and is on an unsustainable financial path. The USPS is forecast to lose tens of billions of dollars over the next decade. Further, as of the end of FY 2018, the USPS balance sheet reflects $89 billion in liabilities against $27 billion in assets–a net deficiency of $62 billion. The shift toward digital correspondence and the corresponding decline in USPS mail volumes have been compounded by caps on mail pricing, leading to mail revenue declines of around 4 percent per year. Additionally, the USPS has not been able to sufficiently reduce costs to offset declines in revenue, resulting in net losses totaling $69 billion between FY 2007 and FY 2018…”

See also Politico: “President Donald Trump’s task force scrutinizing U.S. Postal Service operations is proposing an overhaul of the financially distressed agency, including changes to how it prices packages shipped by retailers like Amazon, a frequent target of the president’s attacks.”

Questions We Should Be Asking About Facebook’s Smear Campaign Against Its Critics

EFF: “The New York Times published a blockbuster story about Facebook that exposed how the company used  so-called “smear merchants” to attack organizations critical of the platform. The story was shocking on a number of levels, revealing that Facebook’s hired guns stooped to dog-whistling, anti-Semitic attacks aimed at George Soros 1 and writing stories blasting… Continue Reading

Tech giants offer empty apologies because users can’t quit

TechCrunch – ‘Sorry’ means nothing since so does ‘We’re deleting’ A true apology consists of a sincere acknowledgement of wrongdoing, a show of empathic remorse for why you wronged and the harm it caused and a promise of restitution by improving ones actions to make things right. Without the follow-through, saying sorry isn’t an apology,… Continue Reading

YouTube to Make New Originals Available for Free

Variety – “YouTube has concluded that its investments in original programming should have a home on the free, ad-supported side — not just tucked behind a paywall. In a shift in strategy, the Google-owned video platform said that starting next year it will move to make all of its new original programming available for free… Continue Reading

Book Review – The unmaking of the steady job

The Nation – Ad Hoc Nation – The unmaking of the steady job. Reviewed – Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary, By Louis Hyman “…Today’s temps, permalancers, subcontractors, and underemployed do have an advantage that their predecessors didn’t: The effects of the gig economy permeate society more thoroughly and… Continue Reading

Amazon’s own ‘Machine Learning University’ now available to all developers

Dr. Matt Wood – “Today, I’m excited to share that, for the first time, the same machine learning courses used to train engineers at Amazon are now arevailable to all developers through AWS. We’ve been using machine learning across Amazon for more than 20 years. With thousands of engineers focused on machine learning across the… Continue Reading

New on LLRX – Technology giants didn’t deserve public trust in the first place

Via LLRX – Technology giants didn’t deserve public trust in the first place – This commentary by Zachary Loeb synthesizes the increasingly frequent calls for oversight, regulation and even breaking up giant tech companies who have strayed way beyond their initial mission statements of “don’t be evil” and “helping you connect and share with the people… Continue Reading

Shop Safe This Holiday Season

Mozila: “Teddy bears that connect to the internet. Smart speakers that listen to commands. Great gifts—unless they spy on you. We created this guide to help you buy safe, secure products this holiday season.” Continue Reading

Google, Facebook, and Amazon benefit from an outdated definition of “monopoly”

Quartz: “…big tech companies have amassed so much power that even Apple CEO Tim Cook has called for stricter regulations to be placed on them. Google owns 92% market share of internet searches, Facebook an almost 70% share of social networks. Both have a duopoly in advertising with no credible competition or regulation. Amazon, meanwhile,… Continue Reading

Amazon’s AbeBooks backs down after booksellers stage global protest

The Guardian: “After almost 600 booksellers withdrew 3.5m books from the secondhand marketplace in support of countries dropped by the website, it apologises for a ‘bad decision’. An “extraordinary and unprecedented” global protest from antiquarian booksellers has forced the Amazon-owned secondhand marketplace AbeBooks to backtrack on its decision to pull out of several countries. AbeBooks… Continue Reading

Amazon Pushes ICE to Buy Its Face Recognition Surveillance Tech

POGO – Amazon employees are up in arms about possible collaborations with law enforcement. “That hasn’t stopped Amazon reps from pitching ICE on its face-scanning tech. “Officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement met with Amazon this summer and the corporate giant pitched the government agency on its controversial technology that can identify people in… Continue Reading

Study – Almost 9 in 10 Android Apps Are Able To Share Data With Google

Third Party Tracking in the Mobile Ecosystem. Reuben Binns, Ulrik Lyngs, Max Van Kleek, Jun Zhao, Timothy Libert, Nigel Shadbolt. 18 October 2018. “Third party tracking allows companies to identify users and track their behaviour across multiple digital services. This paper presents an empirical study of the prevalence of third-party trackers on 959,000 apps from… Continue Reading